To a certain sort of stylish literary super-fan, Joan Didion is not just one of America’s greatest writers. She is a muse, guidepost, and icon: the ur-girl crush. These readers appreciate Didion’s spare, evocative, and unflinching prose, as well as her personal presentation.
Archival photographs feed the fascination: leaning lithely on her Corvette Stingray in a long-sleeved shirtdress with a cigarette; on a deck in Malibu with her late husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo; impenetrable on the cover of The White Album behind giant, gently rounded rectangle sunglasses.
Now 79, Didion will soon be the subject of a new documentary, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, directed by her nephew Griffin Dunne.
If you know a Didion-phile who has actually taped that packing list inside her closet door, just like Didion used to do, you may consider upping the ante this holiday season. For $50, you could get a recipe book for entertaining John-and-Joan-style in Malibu. A donation of $250 will get your favorite book, signed. There are also postcards, reading lists, and set visits. And for a $2,500 contribution, there are even two pairs of the writer’s own sunglasses. They didn’t appear on her packing list, but they could be on yours.